June 24, 2021
Washington, DC – Committee on House Administration Elections Subcommittee Ranking Member Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) delivered this opening statement at today's hearing. After H.R. 1 failed to advance in the Senate this week, Steil discusses H.R. 4 - Democrats' next attempt to nationalize the administration of elections.
CLICK HERE to watch the ongoing hearing.
Text of Steil's prepared remarks:
Earlier this week, H.R. 1/S. 1 failed to advance in the Senate.
H.R. 1/S. 1 would have created the first-ever public financing of congressional campaigns, gutted voter ID laws, legalized ballot harvesting nationwide, weaponized the FEC, limited free speech protections for Americans, and nationalized our elections. Luckily the bill failed to get 60 votes in the Senate.
When Democrat Senator Joe Manchin announced his opposition to H.R. 1/S. 1 he wrote, "partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy," he was chastised by the left. One of our colleagues from the New York delegation said Senator Manchin's op-ed might as well have been titled, "Why I'll vote to preserve Jim Crow."
Unfortunately, this isn't the first time we've heard this kind of ridiculous rhetoric, disinformation, and scare tactics about many of the election integrity laws states have in place or are passing to make it easy to vote, but hard to cheat. We heard the same rhetoric in my home state of Wisconsin when the state implemented voter ID. But in practice this is not the case. In the 2020 election almost 76% of eligible voters cast a ballot, the 4th highest rate in the country.
Another member of the New York delegation recently described states' efforts to bolster voter confidence through smart reforms as a "voter suppression epidemic" on CNN's State of the Union, and President Joe Biden called the Georgia law "un-American, sick and Jim Crow on steroids" – eventually earning four pinocchios from the Washington Post.
When you take the time to read the legislation and analyze these state laws, you'll find that the many states Democrats are crying wolf about actually have less restrictive voting laws than many Democrat-controlled states – New York, Delaware, etc. However, that just does not fit their narrative.
It's all part of an effort to convince the American people that the laws being passed by states are so racist and suppressive that the only option is for the great, benevolent federal government to take over. This is a dangerous and false narrative. I am thankful that our country has come a long way since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965—it's important to recognize. It is also important to remember the history behind the need for that legislation, which was intended to protect and promote minority voter registration and turnout, a moral and just goal.
Our colleague, Congressman Burgess Owens, testified about this at the Senate's hearing on H.R. 1/S. 1 sharing his experience with Jim Crow laws growing up in the deep South and noting how dangerous it is to spread the false narrative that Jim Crow laws exist today. Congressman Owens stated in his testimony, "It is disgusting and offensive to compare the actual voter suppression and violence of the era that we grew up in with a state law that ONLY asks people to show their ID."
While Senate Republicans may have stopped H.R. 1/S.1, this committee hearing today is proof that Democrats' efforts to nationalize our elections are far from over.
As House and Senate Democrats turn their efforts to pass H.R. 4, we need to examine the power of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, which Democrats wish to expand. For example, if H.R. 4, as written last Congress, were to become law, the State of Wisconsin would need to get preclearance from unelected bureaucrats in Washington to implement commonsense voter ID laws. H.R. 4 would essentially remove states' constitutional authority to run their own elections. With the failure of H.R. 1, make no mistake, H.R. 4 is Democrats next attempt at a federal takeover of our election system.
Although unrelated to today's hearing, I want to mention something that happened in our last hearing that was very concerning and that's the use of Zuckerbucks by election administrators.
Mark Zuckerberg poured more than $350 million into this supposedly non-partisan, nonprofits to help election administrators across the country conduct elections during the pandemic. However, the Foundation for Government Accountability has found that much of these dollars went to heavily-Democrat areas. For example, their research found that 92% of the funding in Pennsylvania went to counties that broke in favor of President Biden. Another example is Wisconsin, they found that of the $9.6 million that went to Wisconsin, the majority, $7.5 million, of that went to the cities of Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha, and Racine – heavily-Democrat areas.
This amount of private money going to influence the administration of our elections is concerning and I believe it's something this committee should have a hearing on.
With that, I look forward to today's discussion and yield back.